School-of-Choice Traffic Problems Acknowledged by Long Beach City Council

Long Beach City Councilmembers Suzie Price (3rd District), Daryl Supernaw (4th District), and Stacy Mungo (5th District) drafted a measure requesting that the City Manager address school parking and school traffic congestion issues by increasing communication between the City of Long Beach and Long Beach Unified School District and drafting a list of schools with the most traffic congestion issues.  The measure identifies nuisance (e.g., noise and trash) and pedestrian safety issues caused by “traffic has increased … as students are coming from further away” (Editor’s Note: “student’s … coming from further away” is synonymous with “School-of-Choice” students).  City of Long Beach District 3 Chief-of-Staff Julie Maleki, who was involved in getting the measure passed, stated that the intent of presenting this measure for City Council consideration is to subtly convince LBUSD to begin to engage in the process of improving their traffic problems.

The City Council and Mayor Robert Garcia unanimously approved the measure on July 21, 2015.

Ms. Maleki stated after the vote, “Hopefully this will convince them [LBUSD] to actually do something.”

The measure is a small step in the right direction toward fixing school traffic dangers and school traffic public nuisances, but it has several weaknesses that are likely to inhibit and/or delay badly needed school traffic improvements:

  • There are no deadlines for the City Manager to compile a list, which means it might take years;
  • There are no metrics established for how to define a particular school as being problematic (Should it be based upon how many kids are injured or killed by school traffic, how many complaints the city/police department/LBUSD receive, how much noise traffic makes next to a school, how bad the parking problem around a school is, how much School-of-Choice traffic impacts a neighborhood, or just somebody’s general perception?);
  • There is no mention of the excessively high rates of traffic accidents that the streets adjacent to Long Beach schools incur resulting in dozens of collisions each year between automobiles and children;
  • There are no requirements for the City Manager to implement fixes to problems that are identified (though there are some generalized suggestions);
  • It does not resolve the age-old question of who is responsible for fixing school traffic problems (the City of Long Beach or LBUSD — Hint:  the City of Long Beach has a legislated obligation to manage traffic safely under the California Vehicle Code, but as the cause of school traffic dangers and nuisances, LBUSD arguably has a major civil liability making them responsible too); and
  • None of the recommendations for potential fixes include what is needed most, which are (1) a reduction in school traffic volume into neighborhoods (particularly from capacity created by bungalow additions and LBUSD School-of-Choice) and (2) engineered fixes to traffic flow around schools (engineered fixes are the only fixes that would be permanent, as opposed to educating parents about driving habits and increased police enforcement options, both of which are only partially effective and last only as long as the will of those tasked with implementing them).

This request from the Long Beach City Council will be facilitated through the Joint Use Committee comprised of Long Beach Councilmembers and LBUSD School Boardmembers.

The full text of the measure can be downloaded here.

Public comments and City Council discussion can be viewed on the City of Long Beach web site (This agenda item begins around the 2 hour, 35 minute mark — or just click on Item 35 below the video).

UPDATE: As of May 24, 2016, the Long Beach City Manager’s office was unaware of any action taken on this City Council request, but referred the School Neighbors Association to the City’s Traffic Division for further clarity. The City of Long Beach Traffic Engineer, Eric Widstrand, stated that he is unaware of any action on this item, but that he would check with his staff. The Joint Use Committee that was tasked by the City Council to work on this agenda item was unstaffed at the time the measure passed and remains unstaffed as of May 30, 2016, according to the City of Long Beach web site.

Editor's Note:  This article was updated on May 30, 2016.

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